NEW DELHI (AFP) — An Indian child welfare group said Wednesday it had petitioned a court for custody of a baby girl stuck in legal limbo after she was born to an Indian surrogate mother using a Japanese man's sperm.
Manji Yamada was born last month after eggs from an unknown donor were fertilised using the sperm of Ikufumi Yamada, 45, and implanted into the Indian woman's womb.
The baby girl's fate became unclear when Yamada and his wife divorced after the fertilisation process. His former spouse no longer wants the baby and single fathers cannot adopt baby girls in India.
Yamada still wants his daughter to come home to Japan, but India has no surrogacy laws, and the non-profit child welfare group Satya (Truth) says Yamada's claim to the baby may be illegal.
Satya says the surrogate mother had signed an agreement not with Yamada, but with the clinic which organised the birth -- and only in June, months after the embryo was implanted in her womb.
"They have violated Indian laws by not signing a surrogacy agreement and taking custody of a child abandoned by its mother," said the group's chairman Sanjay Agarwal.
The baby is currently being looked after at a hospital in the western city of Jaipur by her grandmother and friends of Yamada, who returned to Japan for professional reasons.
"Show me a law which allows a foreigner to take away a child like this. The man left the child here to attend to work in Japan. How foolish the father is," Satya's lawyer Abhinav Sharma told AFP by telephone from Jaipur.
Last week, Indian authorities issued a birth certificate for the baby, and her guardians said they would seek travel documents for her to facilitate her reunion with her father.
The case, which has made front page headlines in India, has brought calls for regulation of the country's booming surrogacy business.
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